Sexting led to bloody street brawl

Court House-general2Sending sexually explicit text messages led to bad blood between two Pacific Island families in Christchurch, an armed confrontation in the street, and four men injured in hospital.

A knife, timber, softball bat, and bricks were used in the melee that erupted.

The brutal brawl in Simeon Street in Spreydon on July 24, 2012, is the subject of a six-day Christchurch District Court trial that began today before Judge Raoul Neave and a jury.

After the fight – police said at the time it could have involved eight people – officers were left examining weapons and pools of blood at the scene. They found a knife smeared with the blood of two alleged victims, and the man charged with stabbing them, 34-year-old Soli Soli.

He denies two charges of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, over stab wounds caused to Falaniko Otufangavalu, 27, and his younger brother Sioeli Otufangavalu, 21.

Soli will claim he acted in self-defence. Crown prosecutor Catherine Butchard said the jury would need to consider the question: “Did he go too far in using the knife in the way he did?”

The jury would need to consider the circumstances from Soli’s point of view, whether he had acted defensively, and whether the force he used was reasonable in the cirumstances.

She said the trial was “about bad blood between two families”. Soli is Samoan, and the Otufangavalu family is half Tongan and half Samoan.

She said the Otufangavalu brothers went to a house on July 23, and punched a man there after a confrontation over sexually explicit text messages that had been sent to one of their 16-year-old relatives.

Soli, a relative of the man who was assaulted, objected to the assault and was upset that it took place in front of his family and children. He began sending threatening texts, including one saying he was going to kill the brothers.

When the brothers and friends turned up at the Simeon Street address the next evening, Soli was waiting in the street, and holding a knife. The brothers had a patu, a baseball bat, and a piece of timber.

Weapons were used in the melee that followed. The Crown says Soli used the knife and stabbed Falaniko Otufangavalu four times, in the shoulder, the roof of the mouth, the forearm and elbow as he tried to protect his stomach.

Sioeli Otufangavalu was stabbed in the abdomen as he struck Soli on the head with a small bat.

A third brother was using a baseball bat to keep other members of Soli’s group at bay, while his wounded brothers got away. Soli’s family members threw bricks as the brothers got away in the car. They needed surgery for their knife wounds.

The two Otufangavalu brothers have earlier pleaded guilty to charges of assault with intent to injure arising from the incident at the house the night before. They have not yet been sentenced because they dispute that a child’s softball bat was used, and a separate hearing will be held.

The trial is expected to continue into next week, with the Crown calling 25 witnesses. The Crown case began with evidence to be called from the two Otufangavalu brothers.

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